It has been described as the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian and protection crisis.
Escalating violence in Burkina Faso has forced more than one million people from their homes in the West African country — more than 450,000 this year alone. The security situation continues to deteriorate rapidly in the Sahel, which encompasses Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania.
UNHCR recently launched an emergency appeal to provide life-saving protection and aid to more than three million people in the region who have been forcibly displaced and in desperate need of humanitarian support. Here are a few of their stories.
Mohamed and his parents fled conflict in Mali in 2014. They are among more than 25,000 Malian refugees seeking safety in Burkina Faso, but now exposed to rising insecurity in their host country. The 17-year-old lives in Goudoubo camp which was attacked by armed groups three times in 2019. “The teachers haven’t come back since Christmas. There is no security here. A lot has happened. A lot could happen. There have been terrorists,” he says. “But I feel safe because I have the best friends. We study together at each other’s homes. We take our English, French and maths workbooks and we study. I want to work in IT.”
With tears in her eyes, Fatima told UNHCR Chief Filippo Grandi how her family was forced to run empty-handed after a deadly violent attacked shattered her world. Four months ago, armed men killed her parents in front of her at their home in Arbinda, Burkina Faso. She is now internally displaced in Dori, where she lives in tents with her husband, three children and 13 other family members who also fled.
Armed men told Barra he only had a few hours to leave his home — and he heeded their warning. In February 2019, he fled his village of Gourom in Burkina Faso, 100 kilometres north of where he now lives in Dori. The town is in the Sahel Region of Burkina Faso currently hosts nearly 15,000 internally displaced people – a number that number grows by the day. Displaced Burkinabe have reported fleeing horrifying armed attacks by unidentified individuals, during which men are often killed and women often raped. The armed men typically pillage a family’s belongings and take their livestock. Often, they demand that families leave immediately. The attacks have increased in intensity, making humanitarian access difficult. ”Our village is empty,” says Barra. “Everyone is here.”